YWCA Dayton partnering with bars, restaurants, to prevent sexual assaults

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The YWCA is highlighting its program, Gem City Safe Bars, to train bar and restaurant staff on sexual assault bystander intervention.

As COVID restrictions become less strict and more people are gathering in crowds, sexual assault program educator at the YWCA Dayton, Megan Garrison, said now is the perfect time to go back to in-person trainings. 

“We know that in the United States, every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and that 50 percent of those sexual assaults are used with the tool of alcohol,” she said. “So being able to change the environment of bars and restaurants by working with the industry staff is really helpful to prevent that type of violence from happening.”

On Monday, the YWCA held a face-to face-class at Fifth Street Brewpub. General manager, Tanya Brock, said with men known to have a closer association with the beer industry, she wants to ensure that everyone, no matter their identity, feels safe in her bar, where beer is the specialty.

“Too often bars have been seen as a spot where, particularly women, may not feel comfortable coming in or even working in this environment, and [we’re] trying to help make sure that that changes.”

The key to making that happen, said Garrison, is learning to recognize and intervene in uncomfortable situations before they become dangerous or life threatening.

“One of the things about this kind of strategy is that you’re really working to form bonds and connections between the staff that’s already there and also giving them the equipment and resources to reach out to the community,” she said. “So letting them know that they don’t have to be the ones that are personally intervening. That if they’re scared for their safety, here are the experts they can reach out to, then come in and intervene. Or here’s how to get their co-worker to come in together so that they’re not alone in intervening.”

Brock added, she hopes as the year goes on, more bars and restaurants will sign up to get certified on bystander intervention, and that having a reliable and knowledgeable staff will give community members confidence to also step in when needed.

“I think the more of us that go through the training, the more likely we are to provide a safe space for everybody to go out and have a good time,” she said.

To schedule a time for staff at your bar or restaurant to get certified in bystander intervention, email mgarrison@ywcadayton.org.

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